PROJECT BASED LEARNING: A CASE STUDY IN ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY
University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU); Faculty of Science and Technology; Department of Analytical Chemistry (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The introduction of the new degree within the European Education framework presented an opportunity for the introduction of new teaching methodologies that had not been very common in the Spanish Educational System.
Analytical Chemistry I is an obligatory subject in the 2nd year of the degree in Chemistry. This is the first contact of the students in the degree in Chemistry with Analytical Chemistry and the educational team thought it was a good chance to try different learning procedures. Within this scenario and within the framework of the ERAGIN project of the UPV/EHU, one member of the educational team of this subject was trained in problem-based learning in the year 2010-2011 and implemented the present project during 2011-2012. Among the different topics that the students work in the present subject, those dealing with sampling and sample treatment of both organic and inorganic compounds were chosen to be studied by means of problem-based learning approach.
The initial question to start the learning process was: “Which material and techniques would you buy to fit out a laboratory for environmental analysis?”. Exactly, the students have to fit out a laboratory that works on the analysis of samples from wastewater treatment plants. In a first step the students needed to identify which samples are important for the environmental contamination control in a wastewater treatment plant and which are the legal limits for those spills. Therefore, through this project the students introduced in: (i) the importance of sampling procedure, (ii) sampling techniques and methodologies, (iii) sampling preservation techniques and (iv) sample pretreatment approaches taking in account the type of target and sample matrix. The proposed questions to solve the problem are listed below:
1. What says the law about wastewater spills? Which are the potential target analytes and their limits?
2. Which kind of matrices will arrive to the lab? Which type of analyte are you going to analyse?
3. Which is the sampling procedure? How are you going to preserve the sample? How long can you preserve the sample?
4. Which is the sample treatment for inorganic contaminants?
5. Which is the sample treatment for organic contaminant?
The students worked on teams of three and, among other exercises, puzzle type activities were suggested in order to carry out the project, which was developed for 16 hours in the classroom plus 40 hours out of classroom. The academic results were better than those obtained with the classical methodology for the same group in others topics of the same subject during the course. For instance, the students considered this methodology to be positive and interesting for their own job/degree ratio.
Keywords: Project based learning, Analytical Chemistry, Grade in Chemistry.